by William Skink
While there hasn’t been state leadership in regards to sheltering at home for those without homes to shelter in, the CDC has created some guidelines. NBC Montana reports on how those guidelines are being interpreted in Missoula:
New CDC guidelines for shelters calls for 3 feet of space between beds, with people sleeping head-to-toe.
Engen said Missoula’s Poverello Center homeless shelter is working to limit the number of people who stay overnight in order to comply with CDC directives.
Engen said Missoula is exploring similar options for the future.
“We’ve had conversations about our ability to use federal buildings,” Engen said. “There are a number of options; we have space at the fairgrounds.”
Right now, Engen said city leaders are focused on providing isolation rooms for homeless people displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
“We have coordinated with our incident command team to secure almost 50 hotel rooms,” Engen said.
The hotel rooms are available to isolate people as they await results of COVID-19 testing. So far, Engen said fewer than 20 people have required that service, and he said costs will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Why is Missoula only “exploring” options “for the future”. We are in a fucking lockdown RIGHT NOW, businesses are being destroyed RIGHT NOW, people are losing their collective shit RIGHT NOW, so how about not waiting around until the homeless shelter becomes a hotspot of illness spreading the virus into jail, nursing homes and ambulances.
According to Mayor Engen nearly 20 homeless individuals have already exhibited symptoms and are isolated in hotel rooms. Has anyone tested positive yet? And what happens when someone does test positive?
Remember, we’ve been told the virus can spread BEFORE people show symptoms, so once a homeless person tests positive it should be assumed every single person at the shelter and the camps have been exposed, especially considering the impossibility of social distancing in an overcrowded shelter environment.
Montana Public Radio is also covering the homeless aspect of the pandemic. Here is an excerpt from that report:
Farr is incident commander for Missoula County’s COVID-19 response. Farr says the county has worked with the Poverello Center and a local health organization to institute a screening procedure for everyone who steps through the door. If someone shows symptoms and needs a test, they’re sent to a local hotel that has volunteered rooms for quarantine.
“But at some point we’re going to outgrow that capacity,” she says.
In interviews with shelters and service providers across Montana, finding isolation quarters for suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus stood out as the largest, most persistent problem.
Chris Krager, executive director of Samaritan House in Kalispell, says he only has a couple units available for quarantine, and dealing with the spread of coronavirus in the shelter would be a nightmare scenario.
What will the consequences be for some of the most vulnerable in our community to have been ignored early on in this pandemic? Only time will tell.